Social media videos have long been the wave every marketer wants to ride on. This is easier said than done, though: for every viral video on the interweb, countless others drown in the noise of their competitors and users alike. To increase the likelihood of achieving the former, it is crucial to understand that video marketing strategies can’t be cut and pasted across different platforms, but instead need to be tailored according to the nuances and requirements each one provides. Each platform has a different predominant audience, content niche, and culture that videos should adhere to in order to get the most visibility, boost engagement, and ultimately, return on investment for the brand. This includes video duration—arguably the cornerstone of effective video marketing.
Every video has a call to action that’s most likely to be carried out when a viewer actually watches the entirety of the video. So how do brands make sure this happens? For the uninitiated, this article will be a deep dive into the optimal video length for each digital platform, including tips and tricks to get your brand’s next video hopefully picked up by the algorithm gods.
Best video length: 9 - 15 sec long
It’s well known that TikTok is akin to a black hole: open the app, and you’ll find yourself three hours later still mindlessly scrolling through an alarmingly immeasurable number of videos. This is probably the hottest video-sharing platform right now, and a must to include in your arsenal particularly if your target audience are youths—close to half of this platform’s users are under thirty years old. Don’t be too quick to dismiss it even if otherwise, though, as older individuals have been picking up this site in recent years.
Although TikTok extended their maximum video length to 3 minutes long earlier this July, a brand’s best bet at shooting to virality is a video about 9 to 15 seconds long. The app makes it extremely easy to swipe to the next video if the one they’re watching doesn’t command their attention, so avoid risking this by posting short, punchy videos here. Keep all videos short and straight to the point.
To further boost visibility, here are a few more quick tips:
Use trending sounds
Videos using trending sounds tend to get more eyeballs through landing on a larger number of user For You pages (or FYPs)—even if they don’t, views are still likely through users who scroll through videos under the sound.
Have a strong call to action
This may sound like a no brainer, but it rings through especially on sites like TikTok. Viewers are hungry for content, and if a video is compelling enough, a “like for part 2” or, “follow for a storytime” may be all that’s needed for that engagement push. Again, this is because liking and following are all accessible in a single click, even as viewers watch the video.
While it’s important to post quality content, quantity is important here for algorithmic purposes. Consistent creators are rewarded! According to Hootsuite, time plays a factor as well: generally, TikToks posted in the morning get more engagement.
Best video length: 7 - 15 mins long
This is the biggest video-sharing platform worldwide, so brands should be striving to build a strong presence here. Almost a repository of all videos on the internet, users can find both organic content as well as reposts from other social media platforms here.
The best video length for more views for organic videos on the site lies between 7 to 15 minutes, as suggested by Social Media Examiner. However, because of the sheer diversity of the types of videos available on this website, the optimal video length varies depending on each type.
For brand videos, the shorter, the better. These are usually crafted with the purpose of brand awareness, so keeping it under 2 minutes is ideal. They should model the TikTok videos principle: short, snappy, and attention-grabbing. Take a look at the video below by Volvo for an example!
In contrast, educational or how-to videos tend to be a lot longer, even going past 18 minutes. This video by Marques Brownlee spans a grand total of 33 minutes, where he comprehensively reviews every iPhone since its first launch. Of course, there should be great care taken to ensure that viewers don’t lose attention: a tip would be to signpost by splitting the video up into chapters, like how Brownlee did in his.
For ads, 15 to 20 seconds is a good range for pre-roll ads, while brands would want to keep bumper ads to a maximum of 6 seconds.
Best video length: 15 - 30 secs long
Though originally a photo-sharing app, Instagram has been pivoting to video over the past few years, from the introduction of IGTV to Reels. Most users don’t don’t open up the app to specifically see videos, so more needs to be done to reel viewers in.
Instagram has a plethora of video sharing options, each with their own unspoken do’s and don’ts. For Instagram stories, brands would benefit from posting a maximum of 7 story slides at a time, to ensure that users would see all of them. Too many stories on a profile tends to overwhelm users, leading them to swiping out. 15 seconds is the maximum duration for each Instagram story video. Reels, as the sweet spot in between stories and grid videos, should be 15 to 30 seconds.
For grid videos, keep them under a minute. These will appear in users’ feeds, so adding captions or a captivating cover image is highly encouraged to pull them in, especially because Instagram videos in the feed usually play on mute. Comparatively, IGTV has a higher cap of 5 minutes, and is often played by users who already intended to watch videos. There is less of an emphasis on making an explosive first impression in that sense. As these users are often deeper into the funnel, longer, more comprehensive information or stories here might work better.
Since Instagram provides their own analytics (for business accounts), it would be wise to keep a close eye on them to inform brands on optimal posting times and days.
Best video length: 3 mins long
Like Instagram, Facebook has been leaning towards more videos, prioritising video posts in their algorithm.
With great power comes great responsibility: Although Facebook lets you post videos up to 240 minutes long, doesn’t mean you should. We’d suggest a blanket length of a maximum of 3 minutes, it also depends on the type of videos posted. Ads should have a run time of 15 seconds, while stories should be shorter than 20 seconds.
Video series should have episodes of at least 3 minutes each to maximise viewership, while livestreams should be hosted for a minimum of 10 minutes to garner more views and engagement.
Though videos may be of varying durations, the first 8 seconds are the most important: this is the time a viewer takes to decide whether a video is worth watching. Once you get past this hurdle, the world is your oyster.
You’ve got video lengths down, but what about content? Here at Big 3 Media, we're a Singapore video production company that offers a suite of services to market your business during these challenging times:
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